Cleome gynandra, commonly known as “Spider Flower,” “Spiderwisp” or “Cat’s Whiskers,” is an erect annual indigenous to Africa. Though it occurs as a weed or “volunteer crop” in many parts of the tropics, in countries such as Tanzania, spider flower is cultivated in household gardens as a valuable potherb or for animal fodder.
The current drought and famine in the Horn of Africa are deeply distressing. The severe drought of the past year has put an estimated 12 million or more people in danger of starvation.
An important part of ECHO’s ministry is sharing information about underutilized plants. Many of the seeds in our seed bank are for crops that have not been heavily researched, but that have been found to grow well under challenging conditions and that are already important to people in some places. Introducing such crops in a new location can make a significant impact on nutrition and food security.
World Vision (WV) Australia is involved in both agricultural development and relief work in East Africa. We asked folks there to answer a few questions regarding the current drought and famine.
In what ways have you been involved with addressing the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa?
Could you give us your assessment of the severity of the drought there?
In your experience, what have been the most successful approaches or farming systems in coping with drought?
Are there specific crops or tree-crop (agroforestry) combinations that have proven to be resilient in light of reduced rainfall?